Briefing Room 2
deWulf Naval High Command, 89th Floor
City of Lowell, Fenris
deWulf Corporate Democracy
“I still don’t think we should be funding research anywhere near as much as we are. We need more hulls.”
PackMaster Hella Kobetsky looked over at her two colleagues, a cold and furrowed look on her face as she continued.
“Assaulting a planet is not an easy task, and Attica has proven to be a VERY hard nut to crack. Every credit spent towards research is another credit that’s not being applied towards more hulls, more drones, or more ordinance to help us secure high orbit.”
“Hella, we’ve been over this. We spent an entire week discussing this with Logistical Command. We don’t have the budget for more hulls, and we don’t have the shipyard slips to lay them down. You know that I agree with your position, but if wishes were credits we’d have nova’d their star last year, called it done and gone for dinner.”
PackMaster Klaus Thies leaned back in his chair and sighed. He hadn’t been exaggerating last week. It had been a long, dragged out budgeting fight to try and find the money for the additional hulls that Hella had authorized. The State of Threat gave a lot of leeway, but even Navy Central Command had to bow to the budget in the end. The bad part of it was that Hella was fundamentally right. The fleet needed more hulls. It needed bigger, tougher ships that would inevitably be blown apart and scattered through the Elysian home system. But what it needed and what it could get were two separate things, and this time they were two areas that only had the barest of overlaps.
“But since we don’t get that choice, we have to work with what we have. I’ve pushed through enough exemptions and creative re-prioritization to cover those three new Landser Battleships, but that funding source is well and truly dry, Hella.”
“Sir, I respectfully disagree, and-”
“Hella, don’t piss in a cup and tell me it’s a fresh mug of Pfen. The matter is closed, and if you continue to press this, I will bring it to Rollen, and you will NOT like the outcome of that. Understood?”
“Yes, Sir. I understand, but I wish to file a note of my objections.”
Klaus snorted in amusement. “Already have one, Hella. So, can we get on to the last point on the meeting?”
“Good. Final item on the agenda is each department’s choice for wildcard research.”
Wildcard research was one of the few ways that each department could push their own personal projects forward without having to justify them to the rest of the group, or to naval command at large. A bastion of corruption, certainly. But it also let a department sidestep plenty of red tape and push a project through even when there were substantial concerns. And truth be told, there were times where that wildcard research had paid off in spades. Finally, it gave the departments a chance to funnel a little bit of discretionary spending to the corporations that had submitted the research. Sometimes the proposals were judged as much on who was sponsoring them as on the technology itself.
Hella shifted a bit before speaking. “Charged Polymer Crystals. Armour technology is the cheapest way to improve ship durability, and better plating is a quick retrofit. We’ve examined several samples from Elysian ships, and it’s clear that there’s more to their plating than just new materials woven in various layers. The presence of a power grid inside the armour plating clearly suggests the way forward.”
Technically, all that needed to be said was the name of the proposal, but giving a bit of a spiel tended to take the edge off from any criticism. And helped reinforce the appearance that Hella knew what she was doing.
“I’m pushing on the Upscaling of Doping Gain Mediums.” Klaus never was terribly creative, but he had a knack for choosing useful, if sometimes unspectacular research. “Improvements to our laser weaponry cannot be ignored long-term, and they offer an excellent in-space and orbital bombardment weapon.”
The two turned their head towards the third member of the meeting, PackMaster Brand. As the officer in charge of Research Co-Ordination, he usually had the best idea of how each piece of technology fit together. But as a consequence he also tended to swing for the fences. More than a few of his research projects ended up crashing and burning, but that was the way he played his game.
“Theoretical Applications of Negative Matter. It’s been over a decade since I wrote my thesis, but it’s always been a field that has had more promise than funding. Granted we’re not really certain how to generate negative matter, nevermind contain or manipulate it, but strides have been made over the years. Or so I’ve heard. I don’t expect this project to be paying out anytime soon, but if there is a better time to get such a project going, I’m yet to find it.”
Klaus looked at them both. “Well, if there’s no further disagreements” his eyes locking onto Hella like a targeting sensor “then we can adjourn for the week. Please make sure to have your research projects communicate with PackMaster Brand for scheduling and research space.”
Hella nodded once, collecting her notes and data tablet before rising from her chair and marching out the door. The two other PackMasters looked at each other. Finally, Brand broke the silence.
“She’s right, you know. We do need those hulls.”
Klaus sighed and melted back into his chair. “I know, I know. But Rollen’s already done all the dancing he can to support our current fleet programme, and he had to make some concessions in order to get what we’ve gotten. Article Seventeen gives a lot of leeway, but he knows as well as I do that it’s not an indefinite solution. Eventually we’re going to win, and there’s going to be a lot of corporations coming to the Navy, hat in hand and lawyer in tow. Us funding these research projects means that we can have a few less lawyers in that line when the time comes.”
“Do you think she’s cracking?”
That drew a snort from Klaus “Not a damned bit. Rollen didn’t sign off on her being in charge of Yards and Docks because she’d just do whatever the last person she met told her to do. She’s got her opinions, but they’re her opinions, and she can back them to the hilt. Only cracking she’ll do is cracking her subordinates over the head if they give any excuses.”
Klaus leaned back forward and started to collect his own notes. “Go send that approval letter, Brand. And don’t worry about Hella. You’ll have plenty to worry about on your own soon enough.”
To: Professor Ites, University of Arpah
From: PackMaster Brand, Chief of Research Co-Ordination
RE: Proposal on Theoretical Applications of Negative Matter
Dear Prof. Ites,
As you are aware, the deWulf Navy supports many research projects, both in hard “applied” fields as well as exploratory research. Our commitment to fielding the best equipment means that we must continue to invest not only in evolutionary advancements (such as stronger lasers, better sensor systems, and more powerful engines) but also in potentially revolutionary technologies. More often than not, these revolutionary advancements fail to deliver entirely on their promises. But each project expands the breadth of knowledge, and has now and again provided answers to other problems. Some of which are entirely unrelated to the original field.
Your proposal on negative matter manipulation is definitely one of the latter. While entirely theoretical, the possibilities at face value are very enticing. What set your proposal above the others however, was your honesty and willingness to state that while you felt there WERE potential applications, there were several critical challenges that had to be addressed. While you provided a broad framework on HOW they could be addressed, you also admitted that it was entirely possible that they could founder on some unforeseen technical restriction.
That kind of forthrightness in a proposal is a breath of fresh air to us here at Research Co-Ordination. Often enough proposals seem to promise everything. A faster, harder hitting, more accurate weapon that will explode a planet and do the laundry all before lunch. We’re reasonably good at ferreting out these proposals, but we will be the first to admit that they still manage to slip through and get approved, now and again. Oh, they manage to provide some valuable information (mostly of the “this is totally impossible” kind), but at the end of the process we all cannot help but feel that our resources could have been put to better use.
We don’t have that feeling about your proposal. You may consider this letter official acceptance of your proposal. A follow-up data packet will be sent to your faculty within the next five calendar days outlining specifics, funding timelines, and expected milestones.
We do not expect that you will deliver any functioning technology. What we do expect is, at the end of the project, to know if your proposal is indeed possible at all. And while I cannot of course promise this, I feel comfortable in saying that if it IS possible, an extension to your grant is all but guaranteed.
Congratulations on your successful proposal, Professor Ites.
We expect great things from you.
PackMaster Brand, Chief of Research Co-Ordination
deWulf Corporate Navy